The Chemical Brothers are one of the pioneers who brought electronic music into the forefront of the pop mainstream. Hailing from Manchester, the duo made up of Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons formed in 1989 and have gone on to claim six UK number one albums, 13 top 20 singles, plus plenty of awards, accolades and festival headline slots along with it.
With an upcoming headline UK tour this October and November, and the release of their new single 'No Reason', we're taking a look back on their iconic discography and trying to rank them. While it's appeared to be a near impossible task to rank the top five, we've given it a go. Have we missed out one of your favourites? Or do you disagree with our number one? Let us know your top five on our socials!
Like many of their fans suggest, this album seems to be a return to their beginnings, with the duo finding themselves reigniting the big beat electronic sounds of the 90s while using robotic and AI imagery which gives it an entirely futuristic feel. Its a delight from start to finish. Songs like 'Mah' and 'Bango' are utterly contagious, and the primary focus of the album seems to be its desire to make you dance, which it most definitely fulfils.
Amongst a changing landscape in 2006 which was seeing a slight downturn in mainstream popularity for dance music, The Chemical Brothers proved with this album they were more than capable of adapting and rolling with the ever changing landscape whilst keeping their distinct style. In our minds, 'Galvanise' is the ultimate album opener with that now iconic violin riff. It's a record that is still getting stuck in our heads for weeks at a time, and it's the ultimate energiser track. If you've not checked the album out in full, or its been a while, then whack it on full blast the next time you're getting ready for the day.
2010's 'Further' see's the Chemical Brothers blow up their previous formulas and start again. A less conventional album in that there is less focus on creating a chart topping banger (though I think 'Swoon' could take this title), instead it's a 'slow, patient piece of work, all vibe and no frenzy'. No obvious floor-fillers, it's an album made to zone out to, whether that's through your headphones alone in a room, or enjoyed in a room full of people at a festival. It's a mesmerising electronic album which holds its own without the big-name guest appearances and huge hooks that we had come to know from the duo.
Having celebrated its 25th anniversary with a special edition release last year, this 1997 record was the follow up to their debut. A 'big beat take on the all conquering britpop' which was taking over the UK at the time. Its opener 'Block Rockin' Beats' makes an impact with its fusion of hip-hop and hardcore techno and an impeccable bass riff carrying the track. Then as you move past track six the sound of the record becomes more experimental, with bleeps galore giving the listener their techno hit. The full LP not only radiated the adventurousness of their style, but it also landed them their first No.1 hit in the UK charts and catapulted them to new heights.
There was no other option but to pitch up 'Surrender' at number one. A millennial classic which is pretty much undisputed as their greatest album amongst fans. Released in June 1999, what a way to see in the new millennium. An hour of electronica with some of their most iconic hits like 'Let Forever Be' and 'Hey Boy Hey Girl'; a track which still sounds as fresh as ever, and never goes amiss in a DJ set to this day. Across the album they play with the sounds of Kraftwerk and Orbital, along with more traditional rock sensibilities with guest vocals from returning collaborator Noel Gallagher and New Order's Bernard Sumner. An absolutely iconic album, not just from their discography, but of all time.
Whether you agree with our rankings or not, one thing that can't be argued with is that The Chemical Brothers music is made to be enjoyed live, amongst a sea of people dancing. Grab your tickets for their live shows now!